What is Medically Monitored Detox?
An important part of the addiction recovery process is detox. During this stage, individuals will detox their bodies from harmful, addictive substances. Detox is critical for addiction treatment, recovery and sobriety. While detox can technically be done solo, a medically monitored detox is a necessity in order for the process to be safe, comfortable and effective.
The Need for Addiction Detox
Anyone who wants to break free from an addiction will need to go through detox. A detox is simply the time when consumption of an addictive substance stops. This in and of itself is not the cure for addiction. However, it is the first step towards recovery.
Detox achieves several key objectives on the path to sobriety. First, it clears the mind from the influence of drugs or alcohol. When individuals are free from these impediments, they can begin to think logically. Often, a clear mind is what it takes for patients to get serious about their recovery.
The second objective of detox is to break from the chemical bonds of an addictive substance. When the body is addicted to something like drugs or alcohol, it feels impossible to function without that substance. Beyond just cravings, the body will actually be under some stress. Once the detox is complete, however, there are fewer physical bonds to the addictive substance, making it easier to get and stay sober.
Detox also sets the stage for further treatment. Things like individual behavioral therapy and trauma therapy won’t be helpful if patients are just focused on their addictions. Detox helps people clear their minds and focus on the education, training and resources that are available in rehab programs.
Understanding a Medically Monitored Detox
There is a big difference between a detox done at home and a medically monitored detox. A medically monitored detox is one that is completed in a secure environment. In addition, it should offer 24/7 care and supervision from medical professionals who are familiar with detox and addiction.
Medically monitored detox is designed so that all participants are able to adhere to a plan for withdrawal. A secure facility means that there is no way for drugs or alcohol to get to patients. By eliminating the potential for cheating and failure, medically monitored detox programs can increase the chance of success for all patients.
A medically monitored detox is also far safer than a solo detox completed at home because patients will never be alone. If individuals struggle with symptoms at home, and there are no medical professionals available to help, they could suffer from unnecessary pain or even potential serious medical problems.
Medical Supervision Can Reduce Serious Health Risks
Medical supervision in a detox environment can go a long way in reducing the chance of severe risks to health. During a detox, many individuals suffer from withdrawal symptoms. While these are typically mild, and can resemble the flu, they may also include more severe symptoms that necessitate medical attention.
In some cases, patients withdrawing from drugs and alcohol can struggle with things like strokes or heart attacks. This may happen when there are already underlying cardiac concerns or the stress of detox becomes too much for the body to bear. It is vital that anyone with any preexisting health problems has around-the-clock medical attention and care when in withdrawal.
Withdrawing from drugs or alcohol can also cause psychological symptoms. Paranoia, psychosis, depression and anxiety may occur during detox. These symptoms are often short-lived, but it is best if patients experiencing these problems are in a secure environment where they can’t hurt themselves or others.
Dehydration is another serious concern that can cause major problems when left untreated. Nausea, diarrhea and extreme sweating are all relatively mild symptoms. Together, however, they can lead to dehydration. In a medically supervised detox, things like electrolyte drinks and even IVs can be used as needed to prevent dehydration from becoming severe and putting health at risk.
Proper Medical Attention May Allow for Pharmacological Treatment
Pharmacological treatment, or the use of prescription medication, is common during a detox from addictive substances. It is incredibly important that any use of medication is done under professional supervision. Otherwise, it could result in an additional addiction, or it could worsen certain symptoms.
One way that pharmacological treatment can be helpful during detox is through weaning, or tapering. In some cases, synthetic versions of drugs can be administered that trick the body. Patients won’t experience a euphoria or high, but they will see a reduction in withdrawal symptoms. When administered correctly, this can help patients taper off of certain drugs with less pain or discomfort.
Some medications are contraindicated for patients in a detox. This may not be obvious, but taking any medications in detox without medical supervision could be dangerous. For instance, drugs like Imodium are anti-diarrheal, but they also contain a small amount of opiates. For some patients, this won’t be a problem, but for those in an opioid withdrawal, it could be serious.
Rates of Successful Recovery Increase With Medically Monitored Detox
Arguably the most convincing reason to participate in a medically monitored detox is because it offers higher rates of success than any solo attempts. People who complete a medically supervised detox have a greater chance of completing an additional treatment program, and they also have a greater chance of lasting sobriety.
No one can achieve lifelong sobriety if they can’t get through a full detox. That’s why it is vital that anyone struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction gets help in the form of a medically monitored detox. With a secure facility, there is a tremendous chance of successful withdrawal.
Once withdrawal is complete, patients in a formal detox facility are more likely to begin addiction treatment. This is also a critical stage of recovery, and it paves the way to lower rates of relapse and greater fulfillment in career, family and life.
Clearly, a medically monitored detox is the right choice for anyone ready to end an addiction to drugs and alcohol. The right detox can pave the way for lasting sobriety and health that all people deserve.